I am currently reading the autobiography of John. G. Paton, Missionary to the New Hebrides (modern-day Vanuatu). In his younger days before he went out to the mission field, he was involved in missions work in Glasgow among the poor and destitute. He had a large ministry among former drunks, and held a weekly Total Abstainers’ Meeting. I though that his words concerning alcohol and the professing Christian were very apt, and ones with which I agree:
“From observation, at an early age I became convinced that mere Temperance Societies were a failure, and that Total Abstinence, by the grace of God, was the only sure preventative as well as remedy. What was temperance to in one man was drunkenness in another; and all the drunkards came, not from those who practiced total abstinence, but from those who practiced or tried to practice temperance… It has all my life appeared to me… that the only rational temperance is Total Abstinence from them [alcoholic drinks] as beverages… as they are deceptive and deleterious poisons of the most debasing and demoralizing kind. I found also, that when I tried to reclaim a drunkard, or caution any one as to intemperate habits, one of the first questions was:
“Are you a pledged Abstainer yourself?”
By being enabled to reply “Yes, I am,” the mouth of the objector was closed; and that gave me a hundred-fold more influence with him than if I had had to confess that I was only “temperate”
For the good of others and for the increase of their personal influence as the servants of Christ, I would plead with every one who wishes to work for the Lord Jesus in the Family, the Church and the World, to be a Total Abstainer from all intoxicating drinks and beverages.”
Mr. Paton goes on to express his disapprobation to the use of tobacco, but that while it is injurious to one’s health, the evils that flow from it are not to be in comparison to the “unutterable woes and miseries of intemperance.”
What do you think of Christians drinking? Even in moderation? Is it a practice that should be encouraged, discouraged or left alone in the Church of Christ?